UK profs wanted Kyians to connect on climate change issues. They started a group to do just that.


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Addison Lander

Climate change is a phenomenon that is frequently heard in both the news media and normal conversations. It has become a buzzword for politicians of all leanings, and for a newly-formed group that is headquartered at the University of Kentucky, it is the central point around which many educators, researchers, and professional workers of multiple disciplines are coming together with the goal of raising awareness and taking action.

The Kentucky Climate Consortium (KYCC), founded by UK professors, Lauren Cagle and Carmen Agouridis held its first official meeting on November 1 of 2019, and it was there that the organization’s mission statement was penned: “Transforming tomorrow by connecting Kentuckians to address climate change.”

Although the consortium met for the first time in 2019, the group has roots even further back, in the fall of 2017 at a Water Week event.

According to both Cagle and Agouridis, the organization was born out of a panel discussion that brought UK faculty together around the topic of climate change.

Agouridis, an extension associate professor and associate dean for instruction in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, who set up the panel, remarked that she thought it would be good to see the different people around campus who are working with the issue, what they are doing and providing a space to form connections among themselves.

That is exactly what happened, and the evidence is found in the fact that the KYCC currently has members based in the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, the Kentucky Geological Survey, the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

Within these members, there are professors, specialists and researchers ranging from entomology, or the study of insects, to philosophy, to Cagle’s own associate professorship of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, abbreviated as WRD.

The emphasis being placed on the multi-disciplinary nature of the consortium is due to the members’ realization that climate change is a multi-faceted issue, according to Cagle.

“Climate is a global system that only makes sense in a global context,” she said, mentioning how oceans, current patterns, weather systems, rainfall amounts, agriculture, and many other systems are all interconnected to form our understanding of climate. “Because of this, the reality of the information of Kentucky’s own climate change gets lost among the news of coastal areas, polar bears, and ice caps,” she added

Currently, the KYCC plans to meet at some point this semester when it is fully set up organizationally so the members can start planning out steps to further foster connections between climate specialists and each other, students, educators and the public at large.

Agouridis is hoping to see action taking place in both the classroom and the community, saying she is hoping to see climate used as a vehicle to help students understand systems thinking and also for a more positive stance to be held regarding climate change: that steps are being taken to combat it and not the “doom and gloom” often associated with climate change itself.

In the long term, Agouridis discussed wanting to see the KYCC fostering more evidence-based, scientific conversations that are both educational and non-partisan in nature.

The organization is not alone in the nation; there is something similar in Florida, and Cagle and Agouridis have been in communication with the people there on how to get going once they become established.

In addition, the KYCC has members that do research outside of Kentucky’s borders, although they are based in Kentucky. “Climate change doesn’t observe political borders,” Cagle said.

Currently, there is an emphasis being placed on determining the process for becoming a member of the KYCC, both for members of the community and for students.

There are no ways as of the publishing of this article, although the organization is open to suggestions via the emails of the founders.

Additionally, students who are interested in connecting with the consortium are encouraged to visit this website at and contact members about independent studies, course offerings, and the like in the meantime.

There is a hope that students can also see the consortium and realize that cross-disciplinary conversation and collaboration do occur in the professional world, that “people from all these different areas can actually come together and talk [about common issues],” Cagle said, “that they aren’t just isolated within their field of study.”